March to War IV: Sea Dragon Host Intro

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  • The Return of the Sea Dragon Host!
    So this blog has lain dormant for some time as I played with my UD army primarily last year, but 2020 is the year of the Dragon (from a 9th age perspective for me) and the Sea Dragon Host will be getting some time in the spotlight.

    The 2019 update cycle was pretty good to the Highborn Elves, given the data I think the updates definitely helped move the needle in the right direction and opened up some interesting new builds. One of them that I was keen to try was some builds centered around the Ancient Dragon. I played through a few different iterations of lists but settled on the one below with my thoughts on how it operates:

    1000 - High Prince Gwydion, General, Ancient Dragon Jormungandr, Shield (Star Metal Alloy), Light Armour, Lance (Nova Flare), Obsidian Rock
    430 – Mage Maarken, Wizard Master, Cosmology, Binding Scroll
    355 – Commander Chaynal, Battle Standard Bearer (Aether Icon, Aether Icon), Light Armour, Master of Canreig Tower
    570 - 12 Highborn Lancers, Standard Bearer (Rending Banner), Musician, Champion
    556 - 34 Citizen Spears, Standard Bearer (War Banner of Ryma), Musician, Champion
    235 - 10 Lion Guard, Champion
    100 - Giant Eagles
    100 - Giant Eagles
    614 - 18 Queen's Guard, Standard Bearer (Banner of Becalming), Musician
    180 - Sea Guard Reaper
    180 - Sea Guard Reaper
    180 - Sea Guard Reaper

    AD: It’s a pretty maxed out build focused on survival (MR2 and Starmetal) and punch (Nova Flare). At this point the model is worth 1200 pts and the goal is to have the opponent pour everything they have into it. I have yet to lose this model in my practice games.
    Magic: With effectively 3 heals a turn (Druidism attribute, Touch and Hereditary) on top of two types of invulnerable saves (Healing Waters and Unity in Divergence) and redundant st defensive buffs (Awaken Toughness and Perception Hex) this phase is optimized to support the AD. Add in the ranged damage potential and the redundant strength buffs for the spears/lancers and the low casting value and this phase is really tough for my opponents.

    At the end of the day, just excited to get this model on the table for a tournament!

    Overall Strategy:
    The AD and Lancers zone and the spears hold the center while the shooting/magic does its work. I tend to get aggressive with the AD in early turns to force my opponent to focus on it then either push or reposition/heal it depending on how successful they are.
    I’ve tended to play pretty aggressively with the spears and lancers as people underestimate them and end up with really ugly dispel priority (st buffs, inv saves, altered sight in some match ups). Additionally, losing 1130 pts in the midfield for good exchanges gives my shooting the time it needs to do its work.
    The lions are my utility piece, scoring and they help stabilize some match ups a lot (feldraks, giant spam, etc). I’ve been pretty happy with them overall, I was trying to solve a cheap scoring need and they’ve been pretty solid for me.

    Meta Analysis and Predictions:
    UD: 2
    BH: 3
    WoDG: 6
    VS: 3
    OK: 2
    SA: 2
    DE: 1
    O&G: 2
    HBE: 3
    DH: 4
    ID: 1
    Cannon/Equivalents: 10
    Bolt Throwers/Equivalents: 9
    A few surprises based on the most recent tournaments in the US I was not expecting to see so many DH and BH and I’m definitely disappointed in the amount of artillery out there. If you look back at the most recent 40 person tournament in the West Coast it had half as many cannons/equivalents, so definitely a misread of the meta there

    First Round Match up:
    I ended up drawing a good friend I used to play against in 8th edition, really looking forward to our match, but his list does present some issues for me, he has:
    King on Warthrone: 2+/5++ GW
    Thane BSB: 2+/5++ 1 Lightning
    30 Greybeards FC GW
    30 Warriors FC GW
    22 Deep Watch FC- Aether Icon
    4 Hold Guardians FC
    Grudge Buster
    2x Vengeance Seekers
    2x5 Seekers
    Catapult- Rune Crafted

    Thoughts on the match up:
    I don’t love the artillery and the Grey Beards GW block do give me some concern for the AD, but he’s fairly slow moving and once the artillery are down the AD has free mobility.
    I also don’t mind the AD into the Deep Watch as I think I kill the king pretty handily and I can take st4 all day long.
    Fortunately, aside from the artillery, he doesn’t have any ranged pressure so I can afford to kill the artillery and then prioritize his chaff/buster with my shooting while the AD and lancers should be able to easily outmaneuver his blocks.
    As far as magic goes, I think I go with this:
    MoCT: Awaken, Healing, Ravenswing
    Cosmo: Touch, Hered, Altered, InF/Perception(?)

    I wrote up a little background piece to set the stage for the tournament:
    Yvraine leaned on the stone railing of the balcony looking down on her council with its clusters of generals and advisors as the attendees slowly filtered in. Her personal quarters overlooked the broad round plateau on the side of the island’s volcanic peak and afforded her an early look at her closest confidantes as they gathered to speak on the family’s vast holdings and current strategies.

    Her nephews stood with her brother, Rohannion using his right hand to demonstrate a flanking maneuver he had used in a recent battle against the Dark God’s followers.
    Her cousin Maarken stood with her uncle Chaynal discussing the finer points of anti-magic arts he had been employing recently to safeguard the Sea Dragon host in the field.
    Evana sat beside the captain of the Dragon guard, no doubt discussing the current year’s egg counts and hatchings, her exploits in the field against the feldrak menace this year had been the source of many a new legend and tale amongst the people.

    Yvraine sighed and turned towards her room preparing to make her way down to the council…she envied them. She hadn’t been able to take the field with her forces in over a year, the demands of leadership had weighed heavily on her and she had grown more accustomed the weight of a pen in her hand than her sword. She looked longingly at her sword and scabbard where it hung near her armor and begrudgingly picked up her diadem from its cushion and placed it on her head, feeling its familiar weight draw her mind to the matters at hand…there was no time for fancies she told herself as she reached for the door.

    She drew it back as it swung suddenly inward and her father’s imposing figure filled the door, dressed in full armor, his helmet cradled in the crook of his arm, he towered over her. Her father’s ice blue eyes seemed to look right through her and at her simultaneously, she still couldn’t get fully used to his unsettling gaze or some of the other…changes, which had been evident since his return. Her father had always been a serious elf, in the centuries she had known him he had been an imposing weapons master, tutor and mentor to her but there had always been some warmth…that was completely gone. Since his return her father had distanced himself from everyone, speaking very seldom in clipped terms disappearing and reappearing suddenly and without notice. Frankly, his appearance in her doorway had taken her by surprise and when he spoke her jaw nearly hit the floor.

    ‘Your mother and I shared these rooms,’ he said wistfully as if reliving a memory ‘I remember we spoke about our plans for you and your brother…our family right here the day she died…’ he trailed off a slight tightening around the eyes the only indication of the remembered pain of his spouse’s loss. Yvraine didn’t know what to say so she stayed quiet, letting her father process his memories without interruption.

    A small shake of his head was the only indication that he had changed topics, ‘The campaign you are planning, I will lead the Host’ he declared his eyes now locked on hers. Her father had just said more words to her in the past moments than in the past month, it took her a moment to gather her thoughts, ‘Of course we would welcome your presence father, Chaynal and I have been planning for some time and I had planned to give command to him’. A quick shake of his head preceded his next statement, ‘Your brother can direct the forces in the field, but they will go where I lead them, there is much at stake’. Yvraine puzzled through the implications, but her father’s proposal didn’t seem to have any downsides. Her brother’s campaign was intended to establish their presence in a new trading region on the coast of Taphria, clear out local pirates and bandits and establish an outpost. It was a bold strategic move from a trading perspective, having her father and Jormungandr join her brother would increase their effectiveness and reach tremendously as she had not previously planned to allocate any dragon riders to the campaign. She nodded her head once, the decision made, ‘Good hunting father,’ she quipped. A ghost of a smile came to his face, ‘Indeed!’ some of the remembered vigor seeped into his voice and his eyes blazed with a cold light, ‘My foes are cunning and mighty, but they will fall before me, Wymaig’s power waxes at the equinox and they will not be able to resist us…’ her father’s eyes lost focus during his declaration as if he was seeing something beyond the Veil, then his eyes snapped suddenly into focus and settled on her again. ‘She would have been proud of everything you’ve accomplished, your mother, you have exceeded all of our dreams so many years ago…truly a mighty Dragonlord.’ He settled his hand on her shoulder giving it a slight squeeze, nodded his head, turned heel and was gone. Yvraine was left in stunned silence, for one brief moment her father had stood before her again. She blinked furiously as tears misted her eyes and threatened to fall…

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